The time has finally come to take a controversial vote. A vote that is inevitable because you orchestrated it that way. This could be the defining point of your legacy. You have waited your entire career for this moment and it is finally here. It is time to get back at the people who refuse to listen to you. There is only one problem.
You are not sure if you have the votes.
Your motion only passed the procedural vote by one- and only because you twisted a few arms and violated regular order. It’s gonna be a close call. So how do you ensure a win?
Release the text of your 14 page proposal at the last minute, giving voters just enough time to read it once before voting. Limit debate and discussion by demanding that the vote be taken today. Waste time with a bunch of procedural actions before beginning discussion. Use your position to try to heavily influence voters during debate. Encourage secrecy, throw out thinly veiled threats, rush the process.*
You probably think I’m talking about Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and their quest to kill the Affordable Care Act, right?
The scenario I just described played out in a church setting (I keep telling y’all that some church people are crazy).
The fact that the actions of church leaders mirror the dirty politics and power struggles of the United States Congress is a problem.
My denomination is currently fighting a civil war over whether women should be ordained as pastors. I’m not even gonna open that can of worms today but if you follow my blog (or know me personally), you probably already know where I stand.
What I am concerned about is why this show of force, manipulation, and control was deemed acceptable, in church of all places.
Christians love to talk about how they’re supposed to be different from “the world”. They love to complain about how “worldly” the church is becoming. After asking a few questions and doing a little digging, one will discover that many Christians think any form of change equals worldliness. To them, new methods, ideas, styles of music, and technology are all wrong simply because they are different.
But is that really worldliness?
Doesn’t worldliness seem more like, I don’t know…coercion, authoritarianism, and totalitarianism?
Or is it acceptable if it is done in the name of God?
The day after pulling one of the biggest political stunts of all time, that same group of leaders gathered to discuss why people (mainly teens and young adults) are leaving the church.
No, I didn’t make that up.
They fought tooth and nail to force their views on me (and failed by the way) and then the very next day questioned why I am not interested in sticking around.
Seriously. That happened.
The irony is not lost on me either.
Where did this obsession with conformity and compliance come from? Why is it so important that we all look, eat, act, and think the same way? There is room for diversity of thought and practice while still being united so why do we fear it?
So you are a vegan, you do not wear jewelry, and you only sing hymns from the 19th century. Cool. However, you want me to be/do those things too and have declared that if I do not, it’s because I’m not spiritual enough. But are you really that spiritual or have you just spiritualized your preferences and opinions? Afterall, you are also immature, full of jealously, and you love to argue- things the bible defines as worldliness.
The church is worldly not because we have a praise team and a band but because of this pervasive attitude of
my way or the highway. A viewpoint that allows me to look down on others because they aren’t exactly like me. That’s the worldliness we should firmly be guarding ourselves against.
When we embrace ultimatums we find ourselves micromanaging others; doing any and everything- up to and including actions that are both morally and ethically questionable- to make sure people comply with what we think is right. We also end up doing things that are quite ridiculous like telling people when to clap or how fast they should sing.*
So instead of complaining about change and “worldliness” when others offer new thoughts, ideas, and insights, maybe you should check and see if your attitude is the creepy compromise you’re so worried about.
*For all the Adventists looking for the full story of how the topic of women’s ordination concluded at General Conference Annual Council 2017, click here. For a more critical look, check out this response. #GCAC17